Monday, September 8, 2008

Amazing Digital Paper With the Magic of Harry Potter

One of the coolest things about the Harry Potter movies is how the pictures on the walls, the books and the newspapers move and virtually come alive. The effect is truly magical and now that magic is about to become common place, all thanks to the magic of high-tech digital paper, or flexible screens complete with moving text and images!

Erica A. Taub, writing in the New York Times, recently wrote that Plastic Logic will finally be introducing a flexible digital newspaper that can wirelessly download and hold hundreds of newspaper pages. This, as of yet, unnamed device will be about the size of a sheet of copier paper and will use the same technology as found in Amazon's popular Kindle and Sony's eReader. It will feature the look, but naturally, not quite the feel of a regular paper.


Plastic Logic says that their new device will be 2.5 times larger than the Kindle, but amazingly will only weigh in at two ounces! Compare that to the weight of many big city newspapers, like that of the New York Times itself, which can easily weigh in at five pounds or more and you can just imagine the numbers of trees that could be spared.  The other big difference, as compared to Sony's or Amazon's devices, will be that this new 'magical' newspaper will use a flexible plastic rather than the rigid glass found on current book readers. This flexible screen, someday at least, will mean that you should be able to bend and roll it much like today's traditional newspapers and simply place it in your pant pockets!


Below, you can see a YouTube video of a flexible digital paper screen, in a trial run of Esquire magazine. Look at the cover and the inside and notice the amazing similarities to the Harry Potter movies, something that I find truly 'magical' indeed! It seems almost like a fairy tale and I'm sure that if someone from a hundred years ago were to suddenly come back to life and see it they truly would be convinced that it was pure magic and of the devil himself. This isn't evil, of course, it's just high-tech that it continues to advance daily to the point that it simply boggle's one's mind. 



So, when will this amazing new technology actually go on sale? According to the New York Times, it will be in the first half of next year and I can't wait. Of course, as you can read for yourself, it won't come cheap, but just like everything else in the world of high-tech, we should expect to see prices come down as the technology becomes more widespread and as competition increases.


The New York Times article points out that the technology, which was developed in Cambridge, England, does not need any backlighting what's-so-ever, and yet it's image will still remain visible even after the power source runs down, and in actual dim lighting, it manages to look better than it does in bright sun light! Naturally, without the need for any power sucking backlighting system, the device needs very little power to operate, something that is sure to please the environmentally conscience among us.


My 2 cents on the whole thing is that this is going to be big, and especially as prices for digital paper become dirt cheap. Currently, today's systems, be it from Plastic Logic, eReader or Amazon's Kindle, can now only display black-and-white images, but they are of very high contrast and are just as good, if not better, than the traditional black-and-white newspapers of today. No doubt, color will be the next big wave for the exciting and developing world of digital paper. Just how long it takes for these advances to come to market is anybody's guess, but knowing how technology moves so fast these days, I venture  that it shouldn't be that long.


So, as the technology becomes more advanced, economical and common place, what can we expect? A lot for starters! Imagine, if the next time you go into a grocery store and pick up a package of Quaker Oats, the old man on the logo takes off his hat and winks his approval at you, or just imagine if the label on a Mr. Clean bottle starts to flash across it's top a message such as, " New and Improved, now with a new Lemon scent!" The possibilities are endless and like Harry Potter can only be described as utterly magical.  


Who knows, maybe even throw-away-sensors will alert you, via digital labels, just how much product is left inside the package, or if food stuffs needs to replaced because their expired dates have come up! Again, just as many greeting cards also come with sound these days, maybe too, besides color, this new world of digital paper will someday include sound, so that the next time you have breakfast that Mr. Quaker Oat guy will say, "Good morning! Have a great day and enjoy your oats."



And that's my 2 cents 4 this Monday, September 08, 2008.


Image via:  New York Times,


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